I made a pilgrimage in early September 2012 to Cincinnati specifically to visit Eden Park, but it was the antithesis of a moody moonlit ghost hunt. Instead I parked many miles away, walked endlessly up the winding road that circles the central caldera at the top where Seasongood Pavilion hosts major events in a truly ideal location with perfect acoustics, and attended my twentieth (or so) campaign appearance by President Barack Obama. Needless to say, I was not alone. The free event was in such demand that the completely complimentary tickets handed out in advance ran out before most people even arrived at the gate, and there were numerous attempts to scalp them. A long line of yellow school buses ferried most attendees from the parking lot outside the city's baseball stadium and then waited, much like that sublime last fifteen minutes of the school day, in a long row with their engines idling, waiting for everyone to emerge and ride back to their cars.
As for me, I parked farther away than anyone I know of, and had more fun in the course of the five mile (or so) walk to the park than I thought possible. Being an Obama supporter (please do not hold this against me, my Republican friends) it was quite enjoyable walking with various groups of people there for the same reason, and engaging in political conversation without fear of offending anyone. Politics and religion, of course, are the two most radioactive topics of casual conversation, and knowing that I was among like-minded folks made for a relaxed atmosphere unlike any other. It can be hard to know when, if ever, it's okay to talk politics, so the makeup of the crowd was a definite bonus.
The most powerful man in the world took the stage and delivered his stump speech, tweaked somewhat to fit the city and the state and the most recent current events. Knowing that political opinions tend to make one unpopular on the whole, I'm going to go ahead and side with conventional wisdom as well as my own voting preference and say that Ohio goes to President Obama in 2012; and I'll go one further and predict Sherrod Brown's reelection as US Senator from our state. Finally, it's not much of a leap from Ohio to the whole ball of wax, so let's predict an Obama victory along with it. Hardly daring predictions given the poll results currently extant--but as I write this it is September 28, which leaves plenty of time for an October surprise or perhaps a watershed debate performance...but from where I'm sitting right now I can't imagine a campaign as inept as Romney's winning anything besides Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, and second place.
In fact, I'll keep this paragraph up here as written until at least the end of the calendar year, so if I turn out to be wrong I'll have to eat it for two months. It's just that this will be the third presidential campaign I've worked, and if nothing else the crowds are a leading indicator of the respective health of each side in the race. It's impossible to make it through an Obama crowd with campaign merchandise without being stopped--almost mobbed. That's how it was in 2008 as well, but the McCain crowds and particularly the Palin crowds, while not as large, made up for it in vitriol and cash-on-hand. This is the first year I've ever seen anything like the Romney crowds, to whom you simply cannot give away signs, buttons, bumper stickers, or tee-shirts. I wonder how they disguise the empty seats in some of the venues he has no doubt already optimistically booked. Just think--they have a Victory Night Party to conduct on November 2! What a solemn affair that will be. Too uncomfortable to watch, if you ask me. I felt pain for the little matinee-sized group in Phoenix who watched John McCain bow to the inevitable, perhaps more so because I watched his concession through the glass front of an electronics store at Wabash and Roosevelt and couldn't hear a word because the biggest celebration I've ever encountered was erupting all across the city of Chicago--and the country's first black president was taking the stage just a block away. History was all around. It is this year, too, but in a different way; I hate to say I told you so, but I did say on Election Night in 2008, and have said ceaselessly ever since, that Barack Obama won two terms the night he gave that victory speech in Grant Park. The Republicans with any electoral pull to speak of--the ones who most likely have futures, like Marco Rubio--sat this year out all the way through, not wanting to be blasted aside by the freight train of history and the greatest orator and politician of the century. Barack Obama won his Senate seat in Illinois by a huge margin; he beat back the seemingly-inevitable Hillary juggernaut within his own party; and then he knocked the Republican Party aside despite John McCain's reputation as a centrist and, once upon a time, the guy who would have beaten Al Gore. Mitt Romney barely qualifies as a speed bump on Barack Obama's Road to the White House. Now we'll see if the 25th Amendment can stop him.
Well. You came here for history and ghost stories and instead you got some political gasbagging. To be honest (this might be the only place on my entire enormous website where I discuss this) politics is a topic I'm every bit as interested in as history, folklore, writing fiction and non-fiction, and literature. I also know a lot about Stephen King, and my storehouse of serial killer trivia would discomfit many of you greatly were I to unleash it. (Some topics are very rarely appropriate to bring up.) I know all about the various elections and misfortunes that put our Chief Executives into office--and here in this obscure corner of what I've already mentioned is a gigantic website, I'll go ahead and explain where my interest lies: I'm a very liberal Democrat. A Progressive, as I prefer to think of myself, since over the decades the ideological orientation of the various parties under their various names has done anything but remain steady. I think a long struggle with my conscience in 1912 would have permitted me to bypass Eugene Debs and cast a ballot for Theodore Roosevelt over Woodrow Wilson (who I mostly revile for his racism), since TR could have taken back the White House that year had the plutocrats in charge of the Republican brand bowed to Populist will rather than retain their unhappy incumbent, destined to come in third and then eventually rise to the Chief Justiceship which was his goal all along. In 1948 I most certainly would have been among those saying a prayer of thanks for Harry Truman's hairsbreadth win, but how strange that Thomas Dewey's running mate that year, the governor of California, would become my very final Republican hero once he too was installed in the Chief Justice's seat, and allowed to evolve philosophically well above the political hurlyburly.
In my perfect world, neither Ronald Reagan nor either of the George Bushes were allowed to serve as a notary public, much less the seat of power in any executive mansion. In fact, I think the Republicans have gotten progressively more odious as time has gone by since World War II: Eisenhower famously named appointing "that bastard Earl Warren" as the first regret of his presidency--but he also built the Interstate Highway System and departed with a prescient warning against the "military-industrial complex." Kennedy took the blame for a Cuban fiasco he didn't engineer, and then saved the world entire during a second one for which he received far too little credit, his 1964 landslide cut out from under him just a month before that year began. I consider Lyndon Johnson a model of competent assholery, since he was a more-than-capable steward particularly of the country's domestic agenda but from all accounts a pretty unpleasant human being. Had I been alive and voting I would have pulled the Democratic lever every time without hesitation, including in 1980, when the alternative was enough to put to bed any doubts I might have had about the economy or a hostage crisis in Iran.
Ronald Reagan was a horrible president, a vacant-headed stooge with movie plots for memories. His eviscerating of the social safety net did more damage to the nation than even Richard Nixon had managed--and Iran-Contra was a high crime of the first order which justified impeachment and removal even more than Nixon's scummy burglaries, payoffs, coverups, and deceptions. Bush the first denied us a highly capable polymath in the Oval Office and gave us instead a Nintendo war Americans barely understood (but cheered loudly!). Then the soothing balm of a near-decade of peace and prosperity, the period when I graduated from high school and went several years never having applied for a single job without being offered the position. Then Al Gore picked Joe Lieberman as his running mate and enabled the crime of the century to be carried out in Florida, installing as Commander in Chief a borderline-retarded child of obscene privilege, somehow more of a patsy, puppet, and moron than even Ronald Reagan, who left office in the haze of full-blown Alzheimer's disease. (Anyone who thinks the words are "subliminably" and "nuke-yoo-lar" should not graduate high school, much less receive a "legacy" entrance into the Ivy League and be nursed through curriculum miles too advanced for him to receive actual degrees--including an MBA from Harvard!--on the basis of "gentlemen's Cs" and a highly suspect draft deferral based on service he never even bothered to render to the National Guard. This, truly, is someone who "was born on third base and thought he hit a triple." Allow me a moment to vomit.) 2004 was a stolen election as well; look at the number of votes supposedly cast in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, alone. Different large state, that's all--well, that and the sure knowledge that the Democrats lacked the backbone to stand up and engage in an all-out streetfight. It took Barack Obama to crack the 50% mark and soar several points above it, giving the country its first fair election of the 21st Century. But before Obama arrived, the Bush junta managed to gut every government program designed to regulate the reckless accumulation of wealth, protect the environment, and safeguard minimum working standards for the middle class. I genuinely hate George W. Bush, who murdered many members of the US Armed Services unnecessarily, particularly in Iraq, where we engaged in preemptive war for the first time ever. The disgraceful legacy of the stupidest person ever to occupy the Oval Office.
So, if you're reading this, there you have it: A chunk of ill-advised, run-on filler I would normally never include. I love having people of all political stripes (and religions, and all the other feel-good stuff) enjoy this website; there's no reason it should be partisan in any way. But I had to get that prediction down somewhere so I can point to it later on and say, "I told you so." It's just one of the ways I show my modesty, grace, and serenity. And I can assure you that, some time between one day and one year after Election Day, I will suddenly remember this and I will come back here and wipe this chunk of political talk away like an eraser on a blackboard. But I still won't have taken any pictures during my trip to Eden Park. I guess I thought the ghosts would step aside for President Obama, or at least that the Secret Service would have flushed them out for the duration of the event. Have you ever seen an advance team of those guys go over a location? Unreal, I'm telling you.